Sep 6, 2009

The Woods - Day 1

I love bring in the woods. I've been trying to do this project for a year now -- 10 days of camping out alone, staying silent, immersing myself in an environmemt where I feel at home, and using my photography to reconnect with Mom Nature.

I was in Viet Nam last summer, photographing the jungle that had been sprayed with Agent Orange during the war and was only recently growing back. That sounds like a cool project, I even had a cool for it (Complementary Colors) but i realized when i came back that the green of Viet Nam is not an authentic artistic expression for me. I have no deeper connection to Viet Nam and to the war than any other American, less in fact as I know no one who even served there.

I have a great connection to the woods of Western Pennsylvania; I grew up here. I spent many days playing silently in the woods alone, building forts, categorizing plants, catching bugs and even taking pictures. I'm in Ligonier now, about an hour east of Pittsburgh, staying on the family property of my best friend John "JT" Tippins. My parents lived in Ligonier for about 10 years when I was in my 20's and I've been to this property several times, so although it's familiar I'm still struck by it's beauty and peacefulness. It's not wilderness (as the neighbor's dog continues to remind me) but it is more familiar than wilderness and more authentic to the kind of visual poetry that runs deep inside of me.

On a practical note, I'm finding it difficut to stay silent, even tho I'm alone. I'm used to thinking out loud. Staying silent makes me feel like I'm going to burst. However the peacefulness it brings to me is unexpectantly medative and helps me to connect with the subtle beauty of this place. I also can't stop thinking what a great place this would be to have sex. Being in the woods makes me hornier than usual, brings out some sort of Cave Man thing apparently. About the only time I stop thinkiing about sex is when I'm shooting. So since I didn't pack in any Salt Peter, I think I'm going to be taking a lot of pictures over the next ten days.

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